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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Officials: Co-Pilot Hid Illness From Airline; Amanda Knox Cleared Of Murder Charges; Crews Race to Recover Germanwings Bodies, Crash Debris; New Claims in Bergdahl Defense; Black Man Beats White Man on Train. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired March 28, 2015 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Germanwings investigation, new reports the co-pilot suffered from depression spending a year in treatment so why was he allowed to fly a commercial plane?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANDA KNOX, CLEARED OF ROOMMATE'S MURDER: You saved my life, and I am so grateful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Plus emotional reaction, Amanda Knox, the heartfelt statement late last night after being officially cleared of murder charges in Italy.
BLACKWELL: Bowe Bergdahl, new insight from the U.S. soldier as to why he said he left his unit in Afghanistan. Question, will it be a good defense in court?
KOSIK: Good morning. I am Alison Kosik in for Christy Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good to be with you this morning. Let's get straight to the breaking news out of Germany where investigators are now scouring every inch of Andreas Lubitz's apartment trying to figure out why he would crash a plane into a mountainside killing himself and 149 other people.
KOSIK: Our justice correspondent, Pamela Brown is live in Cologne -- Pamela.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning to both of you, Alison and Victor. I am here in Cologne right outside of the Germanwings headquarters, and at this hour the airline really is not saying much.
We are learning more, though, about Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot, and his medical condition. We know that investigators have been in and out of his apartment in Dusseldorf not far from here from this airport.
Last night, I was right outside of his apartment and investigators brought mounds of evidence and more evidence. Before that they found a crucial clue inside of his apartment.
And so now I am going to turn to our senior international correspondent to talk more about this. We are learning more details and the German newspaper, "The Build" is also talking about his girlfriend and his ex-girlfriend and what she may have been saying.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they have an interview with the ex-girlfriend. Now, "Build" is the biggest newspaper in Germany and it's also a tabloid newspaper so we're going to have to see it in that light. They have an interview with the ex- girlfriend. They have a photo as well.
In that she says that Lubitz was a very sensitive man, someone who needed a lot of care, a lot of attention and someone who could also be quite flattering, she said. He brought her flowers very frequently, but also someone that had a very dark side to him.
Now she does says that he did have moments where they had fights where he would wake up in the middle of the night with some sort of being scared of something so he would have bad dreams and that he was someone who really loved flying a lot and appeared to very much afraid to lose that in his life.
PLEITGEN: When we talk about the medical condition obviously with that interview it is very interesting to hear the personality behind all of that because that's something that's going to be very important going forward.
BROWN: Absolutely, investigators want to figure out sort of the motive here what's going on. We know that the prosecutor here yesterday talked about the fact they were torn up medical notes in his trash bin and a doctor's note for the day that he deliberately as authorities say crashed the plane into the mountain. Do we know anything more? Was it physical? Was it mental health? Do we know anything more?
PLEITGEN: Well, that's the big question right now. In the prosecutor's statement, it was very short, but it was one that I have to say when you know the way German, legal bodies speak, you know it well. They're not as blunt as they were here.
They said that he had an illness. They didn't say what kind of illness it was. Now there are some German publications and also international publications that are saying that it was something mental.
That it might have been some form of depression or something. We also know that in 2008 when he was a cadet at the flying school of Lufthansa that he had the take several months off. It's unclear why. But there are some who are reporting that it might have had something to do with that. But again, this is nothing that's out there officially yet and we have reached out to the university hospital in Dusseldorf where he apparently went this year to get some sort of diagnostics done.
Now they say it wasn't for depression, but they also didn't say whether or not it might have been for some other sort of mental ailments. So there are some reports out there. Nothing is corroborated yet, but certainly we do expect to get more information possibly as this weekend unfolds.
BROWN: You would hope though if he was receiving some sort of psychiatric treatment that the airline would be aware of. What are we hearing from the airline?
PLEITGEN: Yes, that's one of the big mysteries because the airline said that they had absolutely no indication that he had any sort of problems. Now they say that, first of all, they never received the sick notes, so they corroborated what the public prosecutor said.
And they said that according to their medical staff because the pilots have to have a medical checkup every year, they obviously get tested when they go into pilot training.
He was 100 percent fit to fly and they also say that during the time that he was flying, there was nothing that was deemed special or nothing that was deemed strange.
They have a process at Lufthansa and Germanwings where if you notice something strange about a colleague, you're supposed to report it. You can do it anonymously and you're encouraged to do it. In this place, none of that happened.
[06:05:12] BROWN: Wow, so we know investigators, of course, talking with people, with the company and also talking to anyone who knew Andreas Lubitz. Thank you so much, Fred Pleitgen. We appreciate it.
In fact, CNN has spoken to a glider pilot who says that he knew Andreas Lubitz, that he flew with him. And he says that he would fly around the area where the crash happened frequently. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, I was there too with power gliders at least ten times. I know the spot where the plane crashed. I do not think he picked the place out. I don't know. It would be too much a coincidence if he knew that the captain would in this area -- it was just a coincidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: And we know that rescue efforts there at the French Alps where the crash happened, are resuming, but high winds are complicating the efforts there. The rescuers have a lot of obstacles they are facing. Obviously there is a lot of aircraft debris there. There was the captain of the rescue operations telling CNN that very few bodies have been found whole. We know that an access road is now being built to try to get into that area.
We have heard from the very beginning how difficult it is for rescuers to get to that specific spot in the French Alps. So we know that that is happening at this hour.
Alison and Victor, I am going toss it back to you and of course, keep you posted on any developments here from Cologne, Germany.
BLACKWELL: All right, Pamela, thank you so much. We'll see you in just a moment. These questions obviously about Lubit'z mental state are raising even more troubling questions about reporting, self- reporting and what actually happened with this co-pilot.
We have got with us a psychologist, Dr. Erik Fisher, to answer some of the questions. This German tabloid reporting that Lubitz suffered some serious depressive episode sometime in '08 or '09 and then spent more than a year in psychiatric treatment. What does that say to you?
DR. ERIK FISHER, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, again, it's still speculation so we have to honor that. It says that there's a long standing issue of medical problems that's present. Now, if it's managed in most situations it shouldn't preclude somebody from still doing their job.
However, what we rely on these situations is somebody being responsible enough to report their issues. The difficulties in these situations are that it does potentially compromise his life dream of flying a plane and a commercial airplane, which he worked so hard to do.
BLACKWELL: We also don't know if what happened in 2008 or 2009 is directed connected to what qualified him or disqualified him from working according to that doctor that made him unfit to work on the day that this plane went down.
But in the conversation about these mental episodes and having some mental disorders, as the "New York Times" and "The Wall Street Journal" are reporting, I am sure all mental disorders would not qualify someone from being a pilot, which would?
FISHER: You know what, I think when somebody gets to an issue of reality testing and they are working towards psychotic episodes or not really able to see reality accurately, that's going to be something that you're going question the person's ability to fly.
When you get into more significant issues of depression where you get to suicidality, basically what they have to weigh is when somebody is on a psychotropic medication, what are the consequences of that on their ability and the reaction time and planning and impulse control.
So we have to look at issues not just of the diagnosis, but of the psychotropic medications, which is why the FAA and other national agencies, aviation agencies, take these issues so seriously. The cost is sometimes of somebody not wanting to be open and honest because their diagnosis because they fear a loss of the dream, a loss of income and impact of the family. It really becomes a selfish choice in many ways.
BLACKWELL: We talked about that with some of the pilots and the aviation experts not disclosing everything to the company's position. How do you bridge the gap? Is there a way to protect the privacy rights of the pilot and insure passenger's safety?
FISHER: That's a very tough balance. I think they're going to be weighing that in the industries, but that's why so many pilots have their private physician because their private physician keeps it separate and the privacy rights allow that.
However, when you're in a position of such importance to public safety whether it's a pilot or a bus driver, do you sacrifice some privacy for the better good of the masses? That's what we have to look at in question here. Is there a give and take here that people have to be willing to do in order to do the job that they want to do?
BLACKWELL: All right, Dr. Erik Fisher, thank you so much. We will continue to have this conversation throughout the morning.
Also we want you to tweet your questions, use the #germanwingsqs. We're going to get to as many as we can on air to try to get some answers for you. Much more plane coverage ahead.
[06:10:09] Also analysis from an aviation expert and a former pilot including the two-person rule in the cockpit. Would that have made a difference in this disaster? Again, #germanwingqs and use @cnn. We'll get to as many questions as we can -- Alison.
KOSIK: All right, Victor, and there is a lot of other news going on including an incredible rescue of a bus fire with kids trapped inside and the heroic efforts of the bus driver to get them out.
And Amanda Knox's emotional reaction to finally being cleared of murder charges.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KNOX: You have saved my life, and I am so grateful to have my life back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: This morning, we have shocking new details of the co-pilot of the crashed Germanwings Flight 9525. The "New York Times" and the "Wall Street Journal" are reporting that Andreas Lubitz was suffering from mental illness. German prosecutors say doctors had deemed him unfit to work, but he was hiding this from the airplane. Investigators found medical leave notes from a doctor that he had ripped up including one for the day of the crash. They have not found a goodbye note.
Let's bring in Julian Bray, he is an aviation expert and John Ransom, he is a retired airline pilot. John, I want to start with you. As for the pilot if you reveal information like this, do you wind up jeopardizing your job?
I know that I have talked to pilots in the past who have said that their colleagues who are needing to take medications for depression, are not going to say anything to their employer.
[06:15:03] JOHN RANSOM, RETIRED AIRLINE PILOT: Well, it's certainly a lot better nowadays than it was five or ten years ago. Five or ten years ago if you had to go on medication, you were pretty much done flying if it were for depression or other mental illnesses or conditions.
The federal air surgeons over the last few years have changed the process so that probably five or six years ago you could start to take some of the medications that would allow you to continue to function.
Unfortunately, you would have to be down for about a year while you're getting evaluated. They change that maybe a year and a half ago to six months. So yes, there was a chance that you put your job in jeopardy, but there are ways to get your job back.
KOSIK: But that fear of having that stigma that keeps you from keeping your job, that keeps them from telling their employer, that's a reality.
RANSOM: It could potentially, but most pilots recognize that this is very, very important. If there's a chance that there's a condition that they have, that might affect the flying that they're going to do something about it.
The other issue is, of course, it's up to them to tell the employer that they have this issue going on, and although it's a tough call to make, it's a call that most pilots in this situation will do.
KOSIK: OK, Julian , let me go to you and ask you this, commercial pilots take hundreds of lives in their hands every time they get out there and fly. What do you think should pilots undergo mandatory psychological screenings?
JULIAN BRAY, AVIATION EXPERT: Yes, no two ways about it. They're in charge -- well, the lives of 149 souls were in their care. You have to make sure that the person is fit for the job.
Now I understand that the Montreal-based association of airline pilots, they claim to speak for 500,000 pilots. They're having a go at us and revealing all this information. They're saying that we should wait for the official report. If it wasn't for media speculation, then none of this would come out. They would have buried it for a long while until the official report comes out so I am all for it.
KOSIK: And speaking of the details coming out, you know, we're hearing that the co-pilot had these notes from doctors telling him and basically saying that he was unfit to fly. Should doctors have a mission to report patients suffering from mental illness especially if they are being entrusted with human lives?
BRAY: Well, this is the doctor-patient relationship, isn't it? But there's absolutely no excuse for the airline doctor medical service to actually have their people on top of it. If they at least suspect and they did not know that this gentleman had a problem before.
He was off for six months, then, of course, they should increase the frequency of his examinations and his testing, now they do tend to rely on the psychological part during the simulator days in which they go on every six months or so.
You're in a really stressful situation when you're put in, because they can replicate all. It would have come out then. That is the thinking any way.
KOSIK: OK, aviation expert, Julian Bray and John Ransom, you're going to be back in the next hour, and we will discuss more about this. We're going to have more coverage throughout the morning. A live report from Germany coming up straight ahead. Also you can send us your questions to us at #germanwingsqs@cnn.
BLACKWELL: All right, Alison, thanks. Take a look at this. An unbelievable bus fire here, but there's the amazing rescue we want to show you. Kids trapped inside and the heroic efforts of the bus driver to get them out.
And also Amanda Knox's emotional reaction to finally being cleared of murder charges.
BLACKWELL: We will have more on the Germanwings plane crash investigation in a moment. Time now is 6:22. Let's take a look at other developing stories.
KOSIK: After eight years, a grateful Amanda Knox can put her high profile murder trial behind her. Knox made a brief statement after Italy's Supreme Court overturned her murder conviction late Friday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KNOX: You saved my life, and I am so grateful. I am so grateful to have my life back. Thank you, and that's all that I can say. Right now I am still on absorbing what all of this means and what comes to mind is gratitude for the life that's been given to me. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KOSIK: Knox and her Italian boyfriend were accused of murdering her roommate in 2007. Knox had been facing 28 and a half years in prison.
BLACKWELL: Former secretary of the state, Hillary Clinton, wiped the server clean and deleted all e-mails from her personal server. That's according to Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy who said Clinton's lawyer informed him of that news.
Gowdy had asked that Clinton turnover her server to the State Department -- inspector general for an independent review and Clinton's lawyer said no. Late last year Clinton turned more than 55,000 pages of e-mails over to the State Department.
KOSIK: Astronaut Scott Kelly has set out to spend 342 days on the International Space Station, the longest stretch of time any U.S. astronaut has spent in space. Kelly along with two cosmonauts blasted off last night. Part of the mission is performing parallel studies on Scott Kelly's identical twin brother, retired astronaut, Mark Kelly.
BLACKWELL: Wow. Fire burning through a school bus in California, 35 middle school students on board when the bus began to smoke. The bus driver here is being called a hero because she was able to get all the kids off the bus safely before that explosion that you just heard.
KOSIK: The conditions the Alps recovery teams are having to deal with are dangerous and gruesome. We're going to show you what we're dealing with and why officials say that we're going take a couple of weeks before the bodies are discovered.
BLACKWELL: Plus we're exploring one proposal to prevent criminal acts in airplanes. One group suggest pilotless commercial aircrafts.
BROWN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. I am Pamela Brown here in Cologne, Germany with special coverage of the crash of Flight 9525. Right behind me here is the headquarters of Germanwings.
We have been learning more about the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who authorities say deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps. We know last night his apartment not far from here in Cologne in Dusseldorf.
Investigators were there taking out boxes of evidence trying to figure out a motive. Also "Bild" magazine, the largest newspaper in Germany, a tabloid magazine, apparently interviewed Lubitz's ex-girlfriend who told the magazine that Lubitz had two very different personalities. On the one hand, he was very sweet, caring, affectionate. She said he was needy of attention. But on the other hand, she said he would get very angry and yell at her, and she said that he was very fearful of losing his job as a pilot at Germanwings. Meantime, at the crash site at the French Alps, rescue workers are
combating high winds. They have two missions, two main missions at this hour, of course, recovering 150 bodies and recovering the second black box, that flight data recorder.
For more on this, I am going to turn to Eric McLaughlin -- Erin?
[06:30:3900] ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Pamela. Weather conditions have improved here at the French Alps today, which means that they do not have to fly as many choppers and make as many rotations to the crash site. Some 40 people at the site today. They're flying around two choppers compared to the five that they were flying yesterday.
As you say, their priorities are twofold. I was just speaking to the spokesperson for the operation who was telling me that they're still looking for the flight data recorder that's missing. They found a casing for the recorder but not the recorder itself. And that scene is really important to give them more information at to how the plane was perform, what sort of commands the plane was receive, the moments before the impact. They're also looking for human remains, and it's a grim task. A spokesperson saying that it's a cemetery up there, and the bodies have been thrown across hundreds of meters. What they're doing is, every time that they find human remains, they mark it with a number, and they chart it so that they know where each human remain came from. From there, they load them into bags and then lift them via chopper to a separate site, eventually, taken to a DNA center for comparative analysis. Families have already provided DNA samples.
The recovery process is expected to finish, authorities say, if the weather holds, in five to 10 days. But the DNA process, well, that could take weeks and only then will the families receive the remains of their loved ones. It could be a long and agonizing wait for them -- Pamela?
KOSIK: Can't even imagine what that must be like for the family member members.
Erin McLaughlin, thank you so much.
As Erin said, it could take a couple of weeks to recover all the bodies but officials do say they're making good progress.
Our Karl Penhaul actually took one of the paths, trekked one of the same paths as the forensics teams and he joins us now with more near the crash site.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We have been hiking for hours, but finally made it to this spot. Down in that steep-sides valley is where the saddest job of all is now going on.
The rescue teams are made up of forensic medics, high-mountain guides and also French police. They're working in teams, scouring across the hillside and marking with a small red flag any remains that they find of people or of the plane.
You can see white body bags. That, in the words of the French prosecutor, will be a horrendous task because he said that the teams are recovering body parts bit by bit, bag by bag.
Now I don't want to take you any closer down there because there's a crime scene, and we do not want to interview with the work of the recovery teams. Their priority is getting identification on the victims and getting the remains back to the families.
On part of the hillside, you can see scorch marks. Perhaps that's the place where the French prosecutor said the plane made the initial impact and then bounced off the ground and slammed into the mountain a little further on, disintegrating. Hard to imagine what went through the passengers' minds. Just in the last instance, according to the French prosecutor, they were aware that the plane was going down and began to screen.
I hope that by showing you the pictures it helps to understand why the process of recovery is going take so long down in those rugged conditions. I wonder whether, too, by seeing these pictures, whether it helps the family to take the first step in what's bound to be a long process in finding some kind of peace.
Karl Penhaul, CNN, in the French Alps.
KOSIK: Thanks to Karl Penhaul right near the crash site there.
Alison and Victor, that's the latest here in Germany.
Back to you.
[06:34:40] KOSIK: Thanks, Pamela.
Tech giants are exploring the possibility of pilotless aircrafts. After the break, so me experts say planes operated from the ground would make it impervious to hijack but others argue it just kind of shifts the problem.
BLACKWELL: And terrorized on the train. A man is pummeled and kicked over his answer to a question about the Ferguson case.
BLACKWELL: Thirty-eight minutes past the hour. And let's talk more of the crash of the Germanwings flight 9535. Investigators scoured the home of Andreas Lubitz and found a doctor's note torn up in his garbage. The note declared the co-pilot was unfit to work.
KOSIK: Then you had "The New York Times" and "Wall Street Journal" reporting and citing unnamed sources that Lubitz suffered from mental illness. The reports go on to say that he hid that from his employer and parent company, Lufthansa. BLACKWELL: So when a tragedy like this happens, a lot of people start
to look for ways to prevent it from repeating.
KOSIK: Our Tom Foreman looks at one proposal that people are talking about, planes that can be controlled with the ground -- Tom?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Alison. Hey, Victor.
Some of the biggest tech name in the world, like Google and Boeing, are looking into the idea of planes that can be flown from the ground because there's a belief that such planes will be impervious to terror attacks and to criminal acts and to precisely what happened in the French Alps.
FOREMAN: Watch closely. This plane over England has a crew at the controls, passengers in the back, but something extraordinary is about to happen. A pilot on the ground is taking over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready to take control?
PILOT: Ready to proceed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have control.
PILOT: You have control.
[06:40:01] FOREMAN: This is the $94 million Astraea Project by the British aerospace company BAE, one of several efforts around the world to develop planes that can be flown remotely.
PILOT: What you can hear at the moment is the discussion with air traffic that is exactly the same that the pilots were in charge of the steering of the aircraft.
FOREMAN: Military success with drones has driven much of the interest and some efforts are focused in hazardous conditions, such as hurricane research and fighting wildfires. Analysts say that pilotless planes could be a $400 billion a year global business, so why not passenger flights. First, the airline industry has a remarkable safety record despite high-profile disasters. Many believe that on-board pilots are the most reliable way to handle problems and retro-fitting planes would cost millions of dollars. And second, passengers may not be ready.
Robert Goyer (ph) is with "Flying" magazine.
DUNCAN CASEY, ENGINEER, BAE SYSTEMS: I start by asking myself that question, how would I feel getting into an airliner that didn't have airline pilots up front, and I would not do it.
FOREMAN: There are many unanswered questions about reliability and what happens if this plane were to break free from its electronic tether. And what are terrorists take over a ground station and, in that form, take control after an airplane? One possible solution is to have multiple stations involved at any given time so it can't happen with one station being in control. But even then, what if someone hacks into the data stream and takes over from the plane somewhere else? All of these questions have to be answered.
Yes, airplanes are much more automated now than they once where. You could probably take off and land with a robot essentially at the throttle, but for this idea of planes to be controlled from the ground to really become affective, it's going to be a lot testing and application, and that could be a quit number of years in the future -- Allison? Victor?
KOSIK: OK. Thank you, Tom.
BLACKWELL: Charged with desertion. We're talking about the case of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. New details concerning that case could point to a key strategy in his defense. But will it enough to stop him from facing years in prison? Much more on that next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[06:50:] BLACKWELL: War planes attack Yemen's capital of Sanaa throughout the night. Residents say that explosions were heard west of the capital where the government National Guard base is located. No word yet on whether the planes belonged to the Saudi-led coalition, which launched attacks on the country's rebel group, the Houthies, on Thursday. Now this comes just days after Saudi Arabia pledged to contribute 150,000 soldiers to the new military operation. We'll have a live report on the latest developments. That's coming up the next hour -- Alison?
KOSIK: We have new details this morning concerning the government's desertion case against Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. For the first time, we're learning what could be his defense.
Let's get the details from CNN's pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: After being charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl's defense may be taking shape. Defense officials tell CNN Bergdahl has told Army investigators that he did not intend to desert, that his plan, his intention was to walk to the next nearest Army outpost in eastern Afghanistan in July 2009, in the middle of Taliban country, that he was walking to the outpost to report what he thought, what he believed at the time was a lack of leadership, order and discipline in his unit, that was his intention. That's what Army investigators have been told. Now, whether this is going to be a valid defense, a defense that the Army accepts, remains to be seen. It may not matter what his intention was. He is facing a charge of desertion.
This week, we're learning new details of the conditions that Bergdahl was held in for five years after quickly captured by the Taliban when he left the base. He faced five years of isolation, beatings. He was held in conditions that lead to illnesses, wounds on his body. All of this detailed by his lawyer in a release of documents.
But again, all of this will be up to the Army justice system to decide if this is enough for those charges to either stick or to be dismissed.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
BLACKWELL: Let's get more insight now, we have CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling; and HLN legal analyst, Joey Jackson.
Good to have both of you.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Good morning, Victor.
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: Lieutenant General, let's start with you.
Now, we have to talk about the difference of Bergdahl being AWOL and being a deserter. Is there a strong argument that could be made that he was -- he had gone AWOL and was not a deserter? And how would that impact the sentence?
HERTLING: Well, I would suggest, Victor, this is an interesting defense on the part of the defense lawyer because, over the last several months, as you know, there have been multiple interviews and hundreds of interviews of other people that are all part of this case and they tend to have a different picture. If this is Sergeant Bergdahl's defense, it will be interesting to watch it play out. There's a difference between the charge of desertion and AWOL but here seems to be overwhelming evidence that he left the forward operating base for other reasons than just reporting some miscarriage of justice on the part of commanders. And even if that was the case, there are other things than leaving your weapon and equipment and walking off. You can contact -- and every soldier knows -- you can contact the inspector general. You can write letter to your chain of command. So this is an interesting defense.
KOSIK: Joey, as the general just suggested, that we have spoken with so many of his fellow servicemen who said that this was desertion. But if his defense is that "I was going report wrong doing," could that in some way negate the other reports, saying that they are just saying that because they want to cover up what is going on?
[06:49:50] JACKSON: Sure, Victor. Like any case, it depends on all the circumstances involved. What was he doing? To be clear about it, intent certainly matters when you're talking of any crime, whether it's the Uniform Code Military Justice or otherwise. They're going to exam what his intentions were. In examining that, you have to evaluate everything. Is it simply his word that he was going to report wrong doing? Was there wrong doing? What was the nature of the wrong doing? Was he making clear to his fellow servicemen that he had issues that needed to be reported or is this just a convenient defense?
Now what else would be interesting is what other evidence they may have that might indication desertion or not. There's some indication that he mailed home his uniform. There's some indication he left a letter detailing what his intentions were. So I think that all of this is going to be evaluated, in addition to whoever he came in contact with.
What's important is I don't think they'll be able to get any of the Afghan people or Taliban members to testify to the extent of what he was saying and communicating with them. But like with any defense, it has to be measured up against not just his word but what everything else seems to suggest was on his mind when he left his post.
BLACKWELL: General, you listed some options that were available to Sergeant Bergdahl, but have you ever heard of a soldier just saying, "I am going walk to the nearest outpost to report something at this one?"
HERTLING: Yeah, Victor, that's a great question. As you know, I was in the military for four decades, and I've never heard of this one before. It's an interesting approach.
But I will reinforce what Joey said. This is an Article 32 hearing. What they're doing during this session is gathering evidence as to whether or not to proceed with a court-martial or what type of court- martial they will proceed with. The main purpose of this Article 32 is to gather evidence. And the leaking of some evidence, without leaking all of it, is contrary to good order and discipline. But you have to focus, too -- if I can add this -- a military court-martial is very different than a civilian trail. You're not only looking at what do you do in terms of the individual, but you looking about how does this represent good order and discipline within a unit. There are a lot of soldiers watching this trial right now that have served the country very well, and they're going to see what happens. So this is a reflection on the entire military discipline system, and not just on what happened with Sergeant Bergdahl in this event.
BLACKWELL: Yeah, after this claim, I'm sure we will hear from more of those fellow servicemen that served alongside Bergdahl during that time.
Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, Joey Jackson, thank you both.
JACKSON: Thank you.
HERTLING: Thank you.
JACKSON: Have a great day, Victor. BLACKWELL: You, too.
JACKSON: -- General.
KOSIK: Next hour, we're taking a closer look on what is in his background? What could have led Andreas Lubitz to crash flight 9525, killing 149 people? We're going to go Cologne, Germany, for the latest. That's coming up after the break.
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BLACKWELL: A brutal beat down caught on camera. What he said about the controversy in Ferguson that prompted three men to attack.
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[06:56:34] KOSIK: That's super disturbing. Bullied, beaten and bruised. A train ride home turned violent after an African-American man asked a white man about his opinion on Michael Brown. And here is the thing. No one does a thing to stop it. Some people even laughed.
BLACKWELL: So apparently, the guy in the red shirt and hat did not like the victims answer. He began pummeling. You see him kicking the other man. Then two other men joined in the attack before they all took off. Someone recorded it with a cell phone and posted the video online, and has since gone viral.
The 43-year-old was left with minor bruises on his face. He may have broken a bone in his hand when he held it up to protect himself.
He said that it started when a man in his early 20s asked to use his phone. When he said no, the man sat down beside him, and that's when things escalated. Listen to more of the story.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then he asked me my opinion on the Michael Brown thing and I responded that I was too tired to think about it. He stood up, and the next thing that I know, he sucker-punches me right in the middle of my face.
When I got punched in my face, my glasses came down and scraped the bridge of my nose.
I think that it's disgusting that no one, that people were laughing, smiling about it. No one offered to help or call 911.
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KOSIK: As the train pulled into the station, the security guard saw part of the beating and called police. They know exactly who they're looking for. Thanks to surveillance cameras, they have clear images of the group's faces on camera. The men face charges of third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
There's a lot of news to tell you about this morning.
BLACKWELL: Major develops in the Germanwings crash investigation. The next hour of your NEW DAY starts now.
KOSIK: This morning, reports the co-pilot suspected in the Germanwings crash was treated for depression during flight training and that the he hid the illness from his employer.
BLACKWELL: Plus, crews say they're making process at the site where the plane made impact. Why it could take weeks before the victims are recovered and identified.
KOSIK: And Italy's highest court throws out Amanda Knox's murder conviction. What she is saying after the eight-year legal drama is over.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLACKWELL: Good morning to our viewers here in the U.S. and hello to everyone that's joining us from around the world. I'm Victor Blackwell.
KOSIK: I am Alison Kosik, in for Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: Let's get to Germany where European investigators are searching for answers behind Tuesday's tragic Germanwings plane crash.
KOSIK: Justice correspondent, Pamela Brown, is anchoring our coverage live in Cologne, outside of the headquarters of Germanwings.
Good morning Pamela.
[06:59:35] BROWN: Well, good morning to you Alison and Victor.
Officials with Germanwings and the parent company, Lufthansa, still staying very tightlipped about the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz. But we are learning what investigators are finding inside his apartment. According to the prosecutor here in Dusseldorf, right next to Cologne, they found a crucial clue inside of the trash bin inside of Lubitz's the apartment, the torn-up paper, a doctor's note that said he was excused from work on the day that he, according to authorities, deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps.